Mind, Soul and Body of the Human Being
Berlin, 28 February 1918
Someone who takes a popular or scientific book to search some instructions about the relation of the human mind and soul to the outer body can mostly find a sort of the following simile. The sensory impressions that the human being receives from the outside are as it were telegraphic news that is led to the central station of the nervous system, to the brain, via the nerves like wires and is sent out from there again into the organism to evoke the will impulses and so on. Even if for some people such a simile seems to be very likeable, one can say that such a simile should only hide the helplessness compared with the big riddle of mind and soul which one can enclose in the words which should characterise the object of the today's consideration: mind, soul and body of the human being.
Now I have already indicated in the preceding talks that the today's considerations in this area suffer from a basic lack. Just if you position yourself with such a consideration on the ground of the so successful scientific approach in other areas, you cannot get over the prejudice that throws together the soul life with the effectiveness of the real spiritual life in the human being. Today soul and mind or spirit are confused almost everywhere in scientific, in philosophical, and in popular approaches.
That is why the investigations often remain infertile today — apart from the fact that they are infertile of many other reasons — because one does not want to renounce from the prejudice that the human being can be considered without envisaging his structure of three members: body, soul and mind. I have also already indicated in a former talk that spiritual science has to build a bridge from the soul to the mind, as natural sciences have to build a bridge from the soul life to the body. It is soul experience, in the broader sense, undoubtedly — even if the soul experience is based in this case also on the body — if the human being feels hunger, thirst, saturation, respiratory need and the like.
However, even if you develop these sensations ever so much if you try ever so much to increase or decrease the hunger to observe it internally emotionally, or if you compare the sensation of hunger to the saturation and the like, it is impossible to find out for yourself by this mere inner observation of the soul, which bodily bases are the conditions of this soul experience. One has to build the bridge by the known scientific methods in such a way that one goes over from the mere soul experience to that which happens meanwhile in the bodily organisation.
However, it is also impossible to get to any fertile view of the human being as a spiritual being if one only wants to stop with that what the human being experiences internally-emotionally in his thinking, feeling and willing. Mental pictures, feelings, will impulses are the contents of the soul. They surge up and down in the everyday wake day life. One tries to deepen them now and again by going over to a kind of mystic contemplation. However, as far as one is able to go with such a mystic contemplation, one cannot get to any knowledge of the spirit by such mysticism. However, you have to build the bridge from the mere soul experience to the spiritual one if you strive for the knowledge of the spirit, as in the area of the natural sciences the bridge is built from the soul experience to the bodily processes which form the basis of the sensations of hunger, saturation, of the respiratory need and the like. However, you cannot consider the spiritual life of the human being in same way as one goes over from the soul life to the consideration of the bodily organisation. Other methods are necessary there. I have pointed to these methods already in a fundamental way. You find the details in my books How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?, Occult Science. An Outline, The Riddle of Man, and in The Riddles of the Soul, et cetera. However, I would like to bring some noteworthy qualities of those methods forward introductorily which can build the bridge from the usual soul life to the spiritual nature of the human being.
There it concerns above all that just many psychologists of the present believe that certain things are simply impossible which spiritual science must absolutely intend. How often psychologists say today that the real soul life cannot be observed. One points to the fact that, for example, you cannot observe tender feelings because they escape from you if you want to observe them. One points out rightly that we feel disturbed, for example, if we have memorised something, recite it, and want to observe ourselves. This is shown in such a way, as if it were a special peculiarity of the soul life. However, just this is necessary to understand that that which is shown there like an impossibility must be intended as spiritual-scientific method. What the biologist what the physiologist does for the body, the spiritual researcher does for the mind, while he is anxious to ascend from the mere everyday introspection and from the mere mystic introspection to that true soul observation whose impossibility should be asserted with the mentioned tip that we cannot observe ourselves while reciting a poem because we are bothered about it. It is not necessary that you get in such exterior things, as reciting a memorised material, to a possibility of introspection, although for someone who wants to become a spiritual researcher it is also necessary.
However, it is inevitable that the spiritual researcher and psychologist attains real introspection while he faces the course of mental pictures and thoughts, also the course of will impulses, of feelings really so that he is present like his own spectator and learns to observe himself really, so that the observer and the observed completely disintegrate. Some people consider this possibility often as something very easy and believe, while natural sciences use strict methods, spiritual science is something that one can easily attain. However, to real spiritual research methodically strict, patient, vigorous progress is necessary in a way, not only as it happens in the outer scientific area, but in such a way that someone who knows both must say that compared with the often many years' pursuit which is necessary to get to serious spiritual-scientific results one can appropriate the methods of natural sciences easier.
For this true introspection, one creates a basis while one tries quite methodically to lead the will into the mental pictures. Thereby you come to meditation in the true sense of the word, not in a dark, mystic sense. In our usual consciousness we are not accustomed to such a meditative life at all, there the thoughts completely follow the course of the outer world with its impressions. Based on his experience of life or also of his worldly wisdom he regulates his inner life, his train of thought, so that he gets around to arranging his thoughts from the inside. However, all that can be at most a preparation of that which I mean here. This you have to attain in slow, patient, vigorous work. You attain it while you bring such regularity and still such arbitrariness into your thoughts that you are sure: in that, which one practices in such a way nothing works of memory, nothing of that can ascend from some more or less forgotten mental pictures, experiences of life and the like. Hence, it is necessary that someone who wants to get to spiritual research settles in such a pursuit of mental pictures which he arranges to himself in clear way, or receives from there or there in clear way so that he can really say at the moment in which he dedicates himself to this course of mental pictures, I survey how I string the one mental picture and the other how I influence the course of mental pictures by my will.
All that is nothing but a preparation of that which should happen, actually, for the mental and spiritual life. Since, indeed, this must be prepared carefully, but it appears in a certain point of development as something objective, as a reality coming from the spiritual outer world.
Only someone who dedicates himself carefully to such inner exercises for a while brings about gradually if he has led arbitrariness into the course of mental pictures and has overcome it again to discover something internally which strings one mental picture, one thought and the other together from the spiritual area, and causes a soul life, controlled by spiritual reality. As the outer observation regulates the mental pictures and thereby brings in necessity, so that they become mediators of the outer reality, the imagining life gradually becomes a mediator of a spiritual reality. You have to regard only just that which I mean here in the same sense as something seriously scientific as natural sciences are. You must not give yourself up to the prejudice that you get thereby into any speculative fiction because you get, indeed, in inner arbitrariness and realise that you can grasp something spiritually real that approaches your imagination from the other side than the side is which corresponds to the outer physical reality. It is for someone who has not dealt much with such things at first hard to imagine what I mean with these things, actually. Only these things that should form the basis of spiritual science are, like the scientific performances in the laboratory et cetera, nothing but subtler developed activities occurring in the outside world. These inner activities of the spiritual researcher are nothing but the continuation of that what also, otherwise, the soul life accomplishes to produce the relationship between the soul life and the spiritual life which is there always but which becomes conscious by these exercises.
I would like to take the starting point from something that can be more comprehensible to characterise what I mean, actually. Someone who deals with human or other living conditions is able to find differences between the representations of the one writer and the other if he gradually appropriates a sensation for it. He will find with the one author that he can be right with that what he says, that he can rather strictly use his method that he is, however, far away from the nature of the things by the way how he says the things. Against it, one can often say with another author, he is simply by how he speaks about the things a person who is close to the inner nature of the things. It provides something that brings you surely to the things. An example of it:
You can have a lot against such an art appreciation as the author Herman Grimm (18128-1901, art historian) practised it, but you have to admit if you have a sensation of it, even if you often do not agree with his explanations even if you find him dilettantish: in his explanations is something by which you are acquainted with the pieces of art, with the artists, even with their personal characters.
This atmosphere in his writings immediately leads to the being of that about which he speaks. You can put the question to yourself: how does such an author get around to differing just in such typical way from others? For someone who is not used to talking about such things in the abstract just the following can arise. You find some sentences, for example, at a place where he speaks in a very nice article about Raphael, which may probably sound irritating to pedantic, sober scholars. There he says what you would feel according to his opinion if you met Raphael today, and how you would feel quite different if you met Michelangelo today. — Speaking such stuff in a scientific treatise is for some people daydreaming from the start, isn't that so? Of course, one can absolutely understand such a judgement. You find such weird remarks with Herman Grimm at numerous places. One would like to say, he dedicates himself to certain connections of mental pictures from the start about which he knows of course that they cannot become immediate reality, and wants to say nothing special about the outer reality with such remarks. However, someone who has dedicated himself repeatedly to such lines of thought would realise — indeed, now not in this area, because in this area such lines of thought lead to nothing at all — probably in other areas that his soul forces were set in motion so that he can behold deeper into the things and can express them more accurately than others do who despise to do such “unnecessary” lines of thought.
That matters, and I would like to emphasise it. If you do lines of thought in your inside to produce these lines of thought only, to put your thinking in motion, so that it has a possible relationship with reality, and if you refrain from wanting something else with these lines of thought than to bring your thinking in a certain current of development, then your thinking, your soul faculties become nimbler at first. Then the fruit of it appears in quite different areas of consideration. You have to separate both strictly. Someone who is not able to do this gets to pipe dreams, to all kinds of hypotheses. However, to someone who has the self-control to know exactly that such activation of the thinking has only subjective meaning at first who puts the power from such activity of the thinking in motion in the soul, the fruits of it appear at another time. Taking this as starting point Herman Grimm could make historical remarks in his treatises about Macaulay (Thomas Babington M., 1800-1859, British historian, poet and politician), Frederick the Great (1712-1786, Prussian king since 1740) and others which remind of that what spiritual science has to say about the life of the soul and the mind. I do not want to say with it that Herman Grimm was already a spiritual researcher; he just rejects this. I also do not want to say with it that that what I have characterised with him is more than something that can already take place in the usual consciousness. While you develop such a thing and practise it on and on, you lead the will into the imagining and you grasp the spiritual necessity in the imagining.
However, one has to add something else. I have already pointed to the fact that it is important in the development of the spiritual researcher that he can dedicate himself to the so-called limiting points of cognition. Du Bois-Reymond (Emil D. B.-R., 1818-1896, German physician and physiologist) speaks of seven world riddles as limiting points beyond which the human cognition cannot get. Two points form just the starting point of spiritual-scientific investigations. The one is that you feel in the inner life at first what is said with such a border issue, actually. I like to point with pleasure to persons on such occasion who really strive for knowledge. As an example, I cite Friedrich Theodor Vischer (1807-1887, German aesthetician). When this treated the important subject of human dream fantasies, he came to such a border issue. He said to himself, if I look at the relation of the soul life to the body life, it is most certain that the soul cannot be in the body, but it is as certain that the soul cannot be somewhere beyond the body. Someone who develops such a thinking which does not strive for knowledge according to common methods, but according to inner necessary currents of the soul life, has often to say to himself, you are at a point where all mental pictures which are due to the sensory observations, to the whole conscious life do not get you anywhere. Now you can stop at such limiting points and say, well, there is just a border, beyond which the human being cannot come. You are mistaken, while you say this. However, about that I do not want to speak.
The point is that you try just in such limiting points to penetrate with your complete soul life that you try to settle in a real contradiction that shows the spiritual-mental reality as an outer inconsistent reality appears if a plant once shows a green leaf, some other time a yellow petal. In reality, the contradictions also come into being. If you experience them instead of approaching them with your usual logical thinking if you approach them with the full living inner soul being if you let a contradiction live out in the soul and do not approach it with the prejudice of life and want to dissolve it, you notice how it increases, how something really appears there that you can compare to the following, as I have done in my book The Riddles of the Soul.
If a lower living being has no sense of touch at first, but only an inner surging life, and gradually stumbles against the outside world, that what was before only inner surging life changes into the sense of touch. That is a usual scientific idea. Then the sense of touch differentiates again, so that as it were by the collision of the inner life with the outside world the latter becomes inner experience. You can apply this picture of the sense of touch to that mental-spiritual experience which the spiritual researcher has to go through. He lets such limiting points of cognition live out in his soul. Then it is in such a way, as if the inner life is not confronted with a physical outside world, but with a spiritual world and a spiritual sense of touch, which then differentiates further and wants to become what one can call spiritual eyes, spiritual ears figuratively. However, it is far from any preoccupation with such border issues of cognition up to that what I have called beholding consciousness in my book The Riddle of Man. However, one can develop this beholding consciousness.
One has to consider this one thing. The other is that you find out just with such an inner spiritual-mental activity that you cannot penetrate into the spiritual world with the faculty of judgement that you have gained in the sensory world, not even in the negative sense that one says that the human cognition cannot get beyond itself at this point. You have rather to refrain from penetrating into the spiritual world, before you have prepared yourself by these and similar exercises to penetrate really into the spiritual world. For a certain resignation, a certain renunciation belongs to it. While as a rule the human being is used to putting up hypotheses and all kinds of logical conclusions about that what could be or not be beyond the physical experience, the spiritual researcher has not only to get to an inner conviction, but to an inner intellectual virtue not to use for the characteristic of the spiritual world what comes only from the physical-sensory reality. You have to appropriate this renunciation first; it must become a habitual soul quality. Then you bring yourself to the knowledge that the soul has to make itself ripe for it first to penetrate into the spiritual world. This virtue also supports the introduction of the will into the imagining life as I have described it. This brings you to the point where you can practise that introspection of which I have spoken just now, with which you can really be your own spectator, while the thoughts, feelings, and will impulses are proceeding.
Only by such true introspection, the human being develops a spiritual activity about which he knows by experience that it is performed not with the help of the body because the human being with his true ego is now beyond the body. This mental picture is quite unusual admittedly. Since everything of the other worldviews tends to deny the possibility that the human being can develop a soul life which is independent of the body. If in this way the results of the introspection are stated, one criticises them with that which one has gained in the outer. One cannot cope with it. One creates misunderstandings about misunderstandings simply because any spiritual research is based on something opposite that forms the basis of the scientific way of thinking. There the thinking and the methodical development of thinking is so organised in experiments et cetera that the human being applies the scientific methods that are developed with the faculty of judgement and the reason to learn nature's secrets. This is quite natural on the ground of the scientific way of thinking. One uses the same power of thinking and imagining to develop all kinds of scientific methods in spiritual science to prepare the soul first, so that it can observe the results of spiritual science.
This serves to prepare the soul, so that it can observe the phenomena of the soul life in a way that is free from the body. The human being can thereby advance from the soul to the spirit as he advances from the soul to the body with scientific methods. So that you can say, already the whole way of the proving and judging thinking must become different in spiritual science. It must not be absent, but what one reaches with it is the ability of observing because one has applied the methods of the outer science to the development of the soul first.
Thus in the beginning the spiritual researcher prepares himself with the same means with which science gets, otherwise, to its results, to be able to observe spiritually. Thereby that originates what I reluctantly call clairvoyant beholding of the spiritual world, reluctantly because even today one points often to older unusual soul conditions and confuses the strict serious method of spiritual science intentionally or accidentally with all kinds of pathological and dilettantish methods if one speaks of the clairvoyant beholding of the outer world. About such things, I will speak in detail in the talk on the Revelations of the Unconscious.
Now one can observe the soul life in such a way that the observation does not stop only at the soul experience, but points to the spirit. I would like to mention two quintessential points at first. While the human being gets to true introspection which is carried out beyond the body and thereby faces the spirit, he attains a view not only of the relationship of the usual wake state to the usual sleep as an immediate result of observation but above all of that what the phenomena of awakening and falling asleep are. It is still the destiny of spiritual science today that it speaks not only of unknown things, but that it has to speak in quite different way about that what is involved in the consciousness of every human being.
One has to add to this that spiritual science must use words that are coined for the usual life. This causes some difficulties because spiritual science must use the same words now and again already in another direction. It has to go back to known phenomena of life to be able to illuminate the spiritual realm starting from them. The human being knows the alternating conditions of sleeping and waking if one speaks from the point of consciousness at first, on one side as the time in which the consciousness exists from awakening up to falling asleep, and on the other side the time in which the consciousness has disappeared in darkness, in the sleeping consciousness. The spiritual researcher knows that it is so weak that one normally speaks of the absence of the consciousness in sleep. Now, these both alternating conditions are suitable to move some way into the riddle of the human being already by a realistic consideration. From the start, it must strike everybody that the real human being cannot begin with falling asleep and awakening anew. The mental-spiritual being of the human being which lives, otherwise, while awake as a consciousness must also exist in sleep. However, for the usual consciousness the thing is in such a way that the human being cannot consider himself in sleep that he cannot compare, hence, the waking state to the sleeping state internally spiritually. Externally scientifically, it is another matter. Now it concerns that one gets closer to these things if one really ascends from the usual sensory observation to the spiritual observation in such a way that one envisages thinking, feeling, and willing.
We turn our attention upon the imagining and thinking at first. The human being considers it as a rule in such a way that he knows: I am awake from awakening to falling asleep. My thoughts position themselves in my usual awake life. The usual consciousness cannot get to another judgement. It is different if the soul life has prepared itself with such exercises to a spiritual observation. Then one can observe this inner expansion world, the awake consciousness generally from awakening to falling asleep. It is strange, that here serious naturalists meet with that what spiritual science brings to light from another side. However, natural sciences can only build a bridge to the soul life going out from the investigation of the body. They refuse even today to speak about that about which I speak here. Hence, the naturalists speak another language than the spiritual researcher does. However, the things are to be found. Thus interesting investigations have appeared, for example, recently in scientific area by the researcher Julius Pikler (1864-1952, Hungarian physician, politician) who envisages the awake consciousness quite unlike one was used in biology up to now. Of course, he does not examine such a thing spiritual-scientifically. Hence, he takes something as basis that is not more than a word. Pikler speaks of a “drive of waking” which keeps the human being alert up to falling asleep, which is there, even if no special thoughts and mental pictures are there which is said to appear as such in particular in boredom. I wanted to point to it only to show that also from the other side one works on it.
Spiritual science cannot simply take any term or any hypothetical force as basis where a phenomenon exists but has to observe it. Indeed, it observes what the human soul experiences while awake. It observes the steady flow of the conscious day life from awakening up to falling asleep. It finds the way in particular if it observes the intrusion of thoughts and mental pictures in this simple waking state with its methods of observation. There arises for the spiritual researcher that the usual waking state is interrupted by a partial falling asleep in the experience of thoughts. We wake in such a way that we perpetually lower the waking state to partial sleeping, while we move the mental pictures into the waking state. We get to know the relation of the soul to the imagining life only because we can observe how the usually intensive waking state is not diminished as strongly as in the dreamless sleep and the thought which may be evoked by a perception falls into this decrease every time. We do not experience the usual waking state in a steady intensity, but it is diminished perpetually if we grasp thoughts. What exists, otherwise, more or less dulled in sleep continues into the awake life. Thereby you become able to differentiate what you usually have as a coloured succession of mental pictures while awake. What one knows, otherwise, as waking and sleeping of equal intensity, you have to learn to imagine with different degrees of intensity. You must be able to observe the complete waking state, the weakened waking state, the complete sleeping state, the weakened sleeping state and so on.
Thus, you get to know gradually what one does not consider, otherwise, in the consciousness. Thereby one can also envisage the waking state independently by observation to which the spiritual eye must be created first. Then you need no proofs of what you see, but you just behold it. There you become able to regard a view as right, as given by experience about which the present psychology speaks exceptionally seldom. However, once a psychologist spoke very nicely, whom one appreciates too little.
Here you are at one of those points, which are so interesting for the development of spiritual research. This is not something new, but something that should be built up only in a systematic roundup for which the beginnings have already appeared with those who struggled with knowledge. Fortlage (Karl F., 1806-1881, German philosopher) speaks about it once, and Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906, philosopher) reproves him, that, actually, the usual consciousness is dying perpetually. It is a weird, courageous assertion, which is to be confirmed scientifically, although natural sciences interpret the concerning facts wrongly; read, for example, the investigations of Kassowitz (Max K., 1842-1913, Austrian paediatrician).
Fortlage realises that that by which consciousness originates is not only based on the growing life, but that just if the conscious life appears in the soul this life must die in the human organism, so that we carry death through our whole conscious life partially in ourselves. While we form mental pictures, something is destroyed in our nervous system that, however, immediately regenerates again. Development follows destruction again. The conscious soul life is based on destructive processes. Fortlage says, if the partial death that always appears in a part of the body, in the brain, while forming the consciousness, seized the whole body each time as the physical death does it, the human being would have to die perpetually. As to Fortlage the physical death only expresses itself as a whole once what the consciousness is perpetually based on.
Hence, Fortlage can hypothetically conclude because he does not yet have the spiritual beholding that we deal with a partial death each time, if our usual consciousness appears, that the general death is the merging of a consciousness into other conditions, which the human being develops for the spiritual world after death. There appears like a silver lining in no uncertain manner what spiritual science develops more and more exactly. Science shows that the whole nature of the human being that is considered rightly from the viewpoint of evolution today must not only considered from this viewpoint. Now I do not expand this consideration beyond the human being; we shall thoroughly speak later about nature where we can enter into such questions.
If one stops at the human being, one has to consider him in such a way that one knows that a development of growing life takes place, but perpetually also a destructive process, a retrograde development. The organs of this destructive process are mainly in the nervous system. The mental consciousness intervenes in the human being while it lets the processes of growing alternate with destructive processes. The whole awake life from the awakening up to falling asleep is based on the fact that with the awakening the mental-spiritual that has separated with falling asleep from the body immerses in the body and that what is progressive development from falling asleep up to awakening changes into retrograde development in the nervous system.
While the human being is thinking, he has to destroy, he must cause death processes in his nerves to make way for the work of the spiritual-mental. Natural sciences will confirm this more and more from the other side. The spiritual researcher advances from the spiritual-mental to the bodily and shows that, while with the awakening the spiritual-mental flows into the bodily, destruction takes place, until the destruction has advanced so far that the progressive development must appear with the beginning of sleep again. The evenly progressive waking state is based on the fact that by the mental-spiritual in the human body repeatedly a proper, a legitimate destructive process takes place, contrary to that current which lives in the usual waking which is active in the forces which let us as children grow and thrive. If we put the imagining, the thinking in the usual waking state, we work the other way again.
There we bring parts of development, partial states of sleep into the destructive process from the bodily development, so that we can say: it is weakened by processes which represent quite weakly what exists in the growth, that state which extends about the usual awake life because it is destroyed. The spiritual researcher realises now that this destruction, this continuously progressing process from the awakening up to falling asleep is the effect of the spirit in the human being. Spirit destroys, and within this destruction, those activities of imagining and thinking assert themselves in which the soul uses the constructive processes to put them in the spiritual destructive processes. Here we see mind, soul, and body intertwining. The spiritual researcher does not want to speak about the spiritual-mental in a dilettantish way and to disregard that what happens in the body, just because he himself observes that the spirit does not work in such a way that it expresses the processes of growth, of development, which are wholly physical processes, but these contrary processes. While the spiritual researcher gets to know that what the mind accomplishes on the body, he also gets to know again how the soul uses the bodily processes to diminish the spiritual processes, while it moves the mental pictures into the destructive process that the mind performs.
As well as the spiritual researcher on one side recognises in the mental pictures which are involved in the usual waking state a partial falling asleep, he learns to recognise on the other side that every time a will impulse positions itself in the soul life, this appears like an increase of the waking state. Thinking, imagining is like a reduction of the waking state, the will impulse is like an awakening of that state which prevails from the awakening up to falling asleep in relation to the will life that is so vague that one can call it a sleeping life even if one is waking. What does the human being know, while he carries out any will impulse, what proceeds in his arm? It is like an awakening every time a will impulse emerges.
With it, I have indicated how the real observer who has ascended to the true introspection can understand the work of the human soul forces and mental powers in the spiritual. While he advances with his methods further, he can get to know that ego that he experiences in this introspection with which he just does the introspection. This ego does not reveal itself to philosophical speculations; one can only experience it. If it is experienced, one gets to know by immediate view what I have now characterised sketchily. The human being with his usual consciousness cannot help believing, envisaging the forces of growing only, that gradually from the bodily developmental processes that develops which is expressed in the mental as ego. Someone who gets to know the ego by true introspection realises that this is a fallacy — but it is a necessary fallacy for the usual consciousness.
There you learn to recognise that that what happens in the body in the ongoing developmental processes relates to the true ego as the lung to the air. As little the lung produces the air, as little the human body creates the ego anyhow. Only as long as one does not know the real spiritual-mental, one commits the necessary fallacy that this ego has anything to do with the body.
However, the spiritual researcher leaves the body with his methods while investigating the ego, as well as that who wants to look at the air has to leave the lung. Thus, the spiritual researcher recognises by real observation that this self, this spiritual-mental of the human being, enters the physical body at birth, at conception respectively that he gets from the line of heredity. He recognises that this ego, which descends from the spiritual world, receives the body that the body inhales this ego, and the human being exhales it again if he dies. This is a pictorial expression how the spiritual-mental that descends from the spiritual world is connected with the physical-bodily.
Just then, however, an essential differentiation of the spiritual and the mental arises for the spiritual researcher also with the transition of the human being to the mental-spiritual surroundings in which he lives with that part of his being that goes through birth and death which is the everlasting, immortal in the human being compared with the transient body. This difference of the mental and the spiritual arises because we learn to recognise something in the mental which breaks away from the human being that is as it were only a died away keynote of that which you experience, otherwise, as thinking, feeling and willing. I would like to express myself as follows: we take a chanted song. We can regard the words of the song as a poem at first and can continue this consideration in listening the chanted song. However, we can also refrain from the contents of the words while singing and can pay attention to the music only. You can grasp the whole experience of the human being in thinking, feeling, and willing in such a way that you can also grasp an undercurrent there if you do not go into the contents of thinking, feeling, and willing.
To express myself even more clearly, I would like to characterise the matter still from another side. You all know that certain Asian people ascend to the spiritual-mental by methods about which I have said in my talks and books repeatedly that they are not applicable to our western cultural development in the same way that here we have to apply other methods to the conscious spiritual research. However, I may adduce something as comparison. You know that the Asian human beings get to a certain cognition of the soul because they recite mantras over and over again. One laughs in the West at the repetitions in the speeches of Buddha and does not know that for the Eastern human beings this repetition of certain sentences is a necessity because thereby just a certain undercurrent is attained in the inner absorption of the matter, disregarding the immediate contents. One hears music living in the soul with these mantras. The soul puts itself in such a thing. In my books, you can find that we do that in the Western spiritual development in a more spiritual-mental way that we do not resort to such a repeated singing or speaking of mantras. However, what is attained there in other way can be explained by the fact that one points out that one witnesses an undercurrent in thinking, feeling, and willing.
If one resorts to the full introspection, maintaining the contents of thinking, feeling and willing, as you have it in the usual awake consciousness, you discover the work of the spirit the easiest. Against it the mental is something more intimate, it often escapes from you. You have to do quite difficult and lengthy exercises if you want to find out it. While you can find out relatively easily that the spirit is destructive in the ongoing waking state, you have to apply subtler, more intimate exercises to observe that the emerging mental pictures are partial sleeping states. However, if you get to this more intimate experience in the soul, you also get from the mere subjective soul life to the objective soul life. Then you do not pursue the spiritual-mental only in that spiritual realm in which the human being lives between death and a new birth, now in a wholly spiritual experience, but you can pursue the mental in its state before birth and in its postmortal state. As strange as it still sounds to the modern human being, one can find out these things. Due to this experience which the Oriental develops just in a way which is so close to the intimate soul life he realised sooner than the Westerner did that the whole human soul life takes place in repeated lives on earth that the repeated lives on earth really result from observation.
It is an observation result of the mental experience. To experience the imperishable that goes through births and deaths in its spirituality is something else than this mental experience as it appears in the repeated lives on earth. It is like a specialisation of the spiritual experience.
As one sees the imagining being involved in the single human being as partial sleeping, one can observe in the outer world how in that spiritual realm, which one discovers as a scene of the everlasting spiritual in the human being, the mental is involved, while it specifies the general-everlasting spiritual life in repeated lives on earth. Those have begun once and will end once. I speak about that in the next talk.
You attain that by the real development of the mental abilities that not everybody needs to appropriate. However, every human being has the sense for truth. Unless prejudices cloud your sense for truth, you can agree with that which the spiritual researcher has to say, also before you yourself have become a spiritual researcher. Since the seer differs from other people as someone differs who watches the watchmaker from that who sees the clock only. He who sees the clock knows that it has originated from the intellectual activity of the watchmaker; he does not need watching the watchmaker. While the spiritual researcher describes from his research by visionary observation how that comes about what is in the everyday life, someone who observes this immediately will find the said confirmed everywhere, even if he himself is no spiritual researcher.
Even if this appears as something paradox in the general cultural development how the spiritual researcher has to think about body, soul and mind of the human being, that will also arise to spiritual research in the course of time — while natural sciences work from the other side on that what spiritual research has to say — what has arisen for natural sciences slowly and gradually. Consider only that there was a time when certain prejudices prevented the emergence of modern physiology and biology. In a similar way one has a prejudice to build the bridge from the human soul life to that what proceeds in the human body, while the soul life takes place. The study of anatomy became also only possible in the course of the Middle Ages. Before a prejudice was an obstacle to add that what happens there in the body to that what the soul can experience inwardly. Today spiritual science is in the same position. Even if one does not believe it, the today's prejudices are of the same value and come from the same causes. As in the Middle Ages one did not want to permit that bodies were dissected to recognise that what happens in them as a condition of the soul life, the most serious scientists are reluctant even today to investigate the spirit with spiritual-scientific methods. As the Middle Ages got around gradually to releasing the scientific investigation of the human body, the cultural development will also involve that the investigation of the spirit which is not identical with the soul is released to spiritual science.
Whether one goes to scientifically minded human beings, whether one goes to other psychologists and comes with spiritual-scientific results, one experiences the same, only in another field, what the biography of Galilei tells.
Up to Galilei's times the prejudice prevailed which continued by an ambiguous conception of Aristotle during the whole Middle Ages that the nerves arise from the heart. Galilei said to a friend that this were a prejudice. The friend was a strictly religious follower of Aristotle. He said, what I can read in Aristotle is true, and there you can read that the nerves arise from the heart. Then Galilei showed him at a corpse that the nerves arise from the brain, not from the heart that Aristotle had not recognised this because such anatomical studies were not yet usual. However, the follower of Aristotle remained unbelieving. Although he realised that the nerves arise from the brain, he said, indeed, the appearance militates for you, but Aristotle says something different, and if a contradiction is between Aristotle and nature, I do not trust nature but Aristotle. This happened really.
Still today, it is this way. Go to those who want to found psychic research in the old sense from a philosophical viewpoint, go to those who want to found psychic research scientifically, they state that one has anyhow to explain that from the psychic only which forms the basis of the soul phenomena coming from the mind or the body. If one points ever so much to facts of spiritual observation, one answers out of the same spirit, if a contradiction exists between that which Wundt (Wilhelm W., 1832-1920, philosopher, physiologist, psychologist) or Paulsen (Friedrich P., 1846-1908, German philosopher and educator) or any authority say and that which spiritual science shows by spiritual observation, then we do not trust spiritual observation but that which one can read in the books to which we are accustomed in this time without authority. Since today one does no longer believe in authorities, but — indeed, in such a way that one does not notice it — in that which is officially labelled anyhow. Spiritual science will struggle through as well as natural sciences struggled through concerning the investigation of the body.
Naturalists like Du Bois-Reymond and others state that where the supersensible begins science must stop. I have already pointed in a former talk to the fallacy that happens there. Where from did it originate? Indeed, one felt — and Du Bois-Reymond felt rather clearly — that the human being is rooted in something spiritual. However, one must recognise this spiritual only by development of spiritual-scientific methods as the ground from which the mental of the human being originates. Modern science wants to make the things clear, while it envisages that what one can perceive with the senses; since the roots in the spiritual ground escape from it. Science does it like somebody who digs out a tree to face it clearly. Then he faces it clearly but the tree withers. Thus, modern science has dug out the tree of knowledge. However, just as the tree dug out from its ground dries up, knowledge also dries up which one digs out of the spiritual ground. Such a sentence like that of Du Bois-Reymond that science stops where the supersensible begins will be linked up to the contrary conviction in future. One will recognise, if one does not want to recognise the supersensible down to the natural phenomena, one removes the tree of knowledge from its topsoil and makes knowledge dry up. One does not say in future where the supersensible begins, science stops, but one experiences if one wants to found knowledge in the way that one takes out it from the spiritual ground that where in the human spiritual life the supersensible stops science cannot prosper that there a real science cannot originate beyond the supersensible, but that where the supersensible stops a dead science will only be.